Former UCO cheer athletes aim for nationals as club

Select UCO cheer athletes are planning to go to nationals as a club, instead of through the university. The decision to form a club team was decided before any hazing suspensions were announced regarding the cheer team.

Before UCO’s cheer team was suspended, cheer athletes were told they could only participate in the National Cheer Association competition virtually because of COVID-19, so the club team, Central Jags, was created. UCO-affiliated athletes will not be allowed to participate in the NCA competition at all because of the suspension.

About 25 UCO cheer athletes will be traveling to Orlando, Florida, in early April to participate in the Dance Team Union College National Championship. By selling apparel and holding a cheer clinic in Edmond, the athletes have raised almost all the money they need to go to DTU.

“A select few cheer athletes decided to go to DTU College National Championships as a club instead of through the university,” said Ruthie Ross, a junior at UCO who has been on the cheer team since her freshman year.

“We’ve organized local fundraisers through social media,” Ross said. “We’re holding a cheer clinic at the all-star gym we practice at to raise money for our entry fees, flights and uniforms.”

The athletes have been organizing their practice times and coaching themselves. With the cheer athletes not going to the competition as UCO Bronchos, they are unable to use the practice facilities at UCO.

“We have been using a local all-star cheer gym to practice,” Ross said. “We practice from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.”

The team has put together their own routine and are also designing their costumes for the competition.

“There isn’t a coach taking us to the competition or leading our practices. It’s all student led,” Ross stated.

University officials confirmed to The Vista that UCO cannot restrict the Central Jags from competing at DTU.

“They cannot [compete] as the UCO Cheer team or any other official representation of the university,” said Adrienne Nobles, vice president for communications and public affairs.

Central Jags has not released a statement regarding the allegations.

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